Local

Explosions, flames erupt at home in southeast Merced

Watch Merced battalion chief explain how a house fire broke loose

Merced City Fire Battalion Chief Cory Haas describes a house fire that caused explosions at the corner of Shirley Street and Dawn avenue Tuesday, July 23, 2019.
Up Next
Merced City Fire Battalion Chief Cory Haas describes a house fire that caused explosions at the corner of Shirley Street and Dawn avenue Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

Flames engulfed a house Tuesday morning in southeast Merced and at least one explosion rattled the neighborhood.

First reports of a house fire came just before 9 a.m. on Shirley Street near Dawn Avenue.

VS House Fire 1.JPG
Firefighters battle a large fire that caused explosions and damaged two homes Tuesday, July 23, 2019, at the corner of Shirley Street and Dawn Avenue in Merced. Vikaas Shanker vshanker@mercedsunstar.com

Thomas Buchanan told the Sun-Star he first smelled smoke when he was watering outside. Then, he said, the smoke alarms went off.

The 55-year-old Merced man scrambled to get his 80-year-old mother outside safely as flames chewed through the back of the house and raced into the garage. Nobody was injured.

Merced resident Thomas Buchanan talks about how his Shirley Street home caught fire on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

Black smoke was heavy when firefighters arrived and the fire was growing. When they opened the garage door, the fire “broke loose,” Merced City Fire Battalion Chief Cory Haas said. No injuries or deaths were reported from the blaze.

Flames from the back of the Merced County home spread to a neighboring house and burned another structure, some fencing and a few trees.

VS House Fire 2.JPG
Firefighters battle a large fire that caused explosions and damaged two homes Tuesday, July 23, 2019, at the corner of Shirley Street and Dawn Avenue in Merced. Vikaas Shanker vshanker@mercedsunstar.com

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Buchanan said his air conditioner may have sparked the flames.

Neighbors heard at least two explosions.

Rachel Rojas was watching TV just three houses down on Dawn Avenue when she heard the explosions.

“It shook the whole house,” Rojas said, adding her son thought the noise was someone banging on the door. “We heard the second one right after that.”

Haas said the explosions may have been caused when flames reached the propane tanks on an outdoor grill.

A total of 18 firefighters battled the blaze from the home’s roof and the backyard area.

“We actually had our whole department committed to this incident,” Haas told the Sun-Star.

A damage estimate was not available.

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star

  Comments